SECONDARY school students in the Scottish Borders have been responsible for a vital funding boost of £24,000 to local charities through their involvement in the Youth and Philanthropy Initiative (YPI).

The eight schools committed to The Wood Foundation programme which sees young people work in teams to identify social issues impacting their communities and the charities addressing them. They then develop creative presentations in a bid to secure their school’s £3000 grant.

Berwickshire School chose Alzheimers. Earlston chose SAMH, Eyemouth chose the Samaritans, Gala chose Friends of the BGH, Hawick chose Streets Ahead Borders, Jedburgh chose Aberlour Childcare Trust, Kelso chose Quarriers and Selkirk chose Interest Link Borders.

Ali MacLachlan, UK Director at The Wood Foundation, said: “Young people raising awareness of social issues and ensuring this vital funding reached communities at a time of acute need is so important.

“We are incredibly proud of the dedication and commitment shown by schools and students to ensure this important learning and funding opportunity continued with such vigour despite all the challenges of the school year from Covid-19.

“Giving young people a platform and a voice to lead their learning and make a difference to the issues they saw first-hand locally took on additional significance in a year when so much autonomy was taken away.

“We have been blown away by many of the presentations and have great hope that our young people are an exciting force for change.”

Nationally, 220 schools took part in the programme this year channelling £660,000 to charities. Since it was launched in Scotland in 2008, the active citizenship programme YPI has been responsible for more than £5m being granted to local charities championed by young people. It is Scotland’s largest independent initiative being delivered in education, having empowered more than 230,000 young people to advocate for causes they care passionately about while developing vital skills.

As an education programme, teachers believe that YPI is improving young people’s skills for learning, life, and work in areas such as teamwork, decision making, research, creativity, communication, problem solving and resilience. They also believe students are becoming more empathetic and engaged in their communities, better able to discuss social issues and committing to be active citizens.